We must we careful not to understate the impact of any encounters with venomous animals on families and the sufferers themselves. Nor must we play down the highly specialised management, effective treatment and medical care required.
But is this reputation of a land of deadly and aggressive creatures well founded?
Detail in the data
My colleagues and I recently published a review of hospital admissions and deaths caused by venomous animals in the Internal Medical Journal.
We sourced data from 2001-2013 from national hospital admissions and national coronial information, which showed more than 42,000 hospitalisations from venomous sting or bites. Most – not all – are shown in the graph, below.
Over the 12 years that’s an average 3,500 people admitted to hospital every year for a venom-related injury. This can be loosely averaged 0.01% of the Australian population per year, or roughly one in 10,000 Australians.
Allergy or anaphylaxis from insect stings such as bees or wasps were responsible for about one-third (33%) of hospital admissions, followed by spider bites (30%) and snake bites (15%).
Over the 12 years, 64 people were killed by a venomous sting or bite, with more than half of these (34) caused by an allergic reaction to an insect bite that brought on anaphylactic shock.
Of these, 27 deaths were the result of a bee or wasp sting, with only one case of a beekeeper being killed. Anaphylaxis to tick and ant bites combined caused five deaths, the box jellyfish caused three deaths and two deaths were from an unidentified insect.
Given there are 140 species of land snakes in Australia, snake bite fatalities are very rare, at 27 for the study period. To put that in perspective, the World Health Organization estimates that at least 100,000 people die from snake bite globally each year.
The NBN is a painful political boil on the government's arse. After the promise of fast 100Mbps connections was squashed by the Abbott/Turnbull government, in favour of a program that said 25Mbps qualified as broadband, there have been all sorts of delays and issues with the service.
A recent survey, albeit with a small sample size, quantified some of that pain, with many NBN customers saying they'd prefer to go back to their old ADSL connections. You know things are bad when ADSL looks like a better option. So, what can you do about it if you're on the NBN but it sucks?
The government's My Health Record (MHR) system promises to bring together a bunch of different healthcare data so that a trip to the hospital or doctor won't require lots of information being recorded over and over again.
It should reduce some costs as healthcare providers can access pathology and other analyses without repeating tests and will simplify how we deal with some agencies. But it's also being implemented in a pretty ham-fisted way, with everyone's consent assumed unless they opt out. I've been looking at the system. Here's what I'll be doing.